Reappraising the ‘Art of Counting’. An international symposium to celebrate 500 years of Cuthbert Tunstall’s De arte supputandi libri quattuor

Reappraising the ‘Art of Counting’. An international symposium to celebrate 500 years of Cuthbert Tunstall’s De arte supputandi libri quattuor

Friday 9 September 2022 - 12.00 to Saturday 10 September 2022 - 16.00
University of Durham

The British Society for the History of Mathematics and the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Durham University are hosting a two-day symposium that re-assesses the significance of Cuthbert Tunstall’s De arte supputandi libri quattuor, the first work devoted exclusively to mathematics to have been printed in England.

The meeting runs Friday lunchtime to Saturday lunchtime. Limited accommodation for up to 25 people on the Friday night is available at Durham University.

A free public lecture, available online or in person, will form part of the meeting on Friday evening.

What is included?

All conference registrations include sandwich lunch on Friday and Saturday, plus teas/coffees during breaks. Accommodation registration options include bed and breakfast on Friday night at Durham University.

If you wish to visit Ushaw Library on Saturday afternoon, please select this (free) add-on.

Dinner on Friday night is not included, but we hope to book a table for a large group at an inexpensive local restaurant with a varied menu.


The programme begins with lunch and a visit to the Tunstall exhibition at the Castle, includes a public lecture by Travis Williams on Friday evening, and finishes with an optional visit to the rare mathematics books in the Ushaw Library just outside Durham on Saturday afternoon.

PDF icon Programme & abstracts as of 6 August

Provisional Schedule (updated 6 August):


am: Arrival and accommodation checkin (for those who arrive earlyish)

12.15 Sandwich Lunch & Registration at Castle

13.15 Introduction

13.30 Exhibition & Castle

14.40 Transfer to Maths Dept (transport provided)

15.10 Satyanad Kichenassamy (Reims), Tunstall, Pacioli, and Tartaglia's English connections: facts and perspectives

15.55 Harald Gropp (Heidelberg), The earliest printed math books in Continental Europe

16.20 Tea/Coffee

16.50 Eleonora Sammarchi (ETH Zurich), Mathematics during the Renaissance: language, concepts and social factors. The case study of Luca Pacioli’s Summa (1494)

17.35 Comfort break

17.45 Public Lecture: Travis Williams (Rhode Island), Tunstall’s Eloquent Arithmetic: Renaissance Mathematics as Pleasure Reading

18.45 Free time to go to Accommodation – 15 mins walk

19.45 Dinner in town (not included in registration fee)


09.20 Deborah Kent (St Andrews), Mysteries in the margins: Annotations in De arte supputandi

09.45 Stefano Gulizia (Milan), ‘Illa […] insula volvit Aristotelem’: Anglo-Italian exchanges, Paduan Aristotelians, and Tunstall’s mathematics

10.30 Tea/Coffee

11.00 Thomas Henderson (Durham), Before Tunstall: Arithmetic in England from the eleventh century to 1522

11.25 Fenny Smith (Independent), "...Ciceronian eloquence is fine, but not suitable for those who don't understand Latin." The earliest printed arithmetics in English

12.10 Sandwich Lunch

13.15 Optional Ushaw Library Tour (transport provided)

15.30 Finish (transport provided from Ushaw Library to railway station and hall of residence)